The beauty of the uncommercialized

Last night’s 2009 Big 12 Conference Championship Game was incredible. Yes, the team I root for lost, but hats off to both teams: to Nebraska for coming within one second and one point of beating possibly the best team in the country despite an inept offense, and to Texas for pulling out the win.

Of course, now the real fun begins as people start to argue, again, against the BCS. Their are five undefeated teams at the end of this regular season all of whom have a hankering to play for a national title. The bowl system doesn’t allow for that. We need a playoff many people will argue. Apparently the weight of congress is being thrown around in the discussion more and more this year.

I understand why every undefeated team wants a shot at an undisputed title, but as a spectator I don’t think it’s that big of deal. I’m no expert on the system, but I can’t help thinking that if there weren’t so much money involved in college football these days it would be less of a debate.

While I retain a certain nostalgia for “the good old days” of college ball, I know those days have, sadly, passed. The games are still great to watch, but the system has become more about business than athletics from what I can see in my living room. It seems like everything in the game now has a dollar sign attached to it.

The one exception, the last vestige of a less commercialized sport other than the players, are the bowls. I’m not saying my observation is entirely accurate (sponsorships have been around, well, probably for more than a century), but it is my observation.

So for me the bowls are representative of a purer, so to speak, sport. I know tournaments and brackets are the only fair way to give all of the deserving teams a shot at an undisputed title, but in a culture already so ubiquitously engulfed by sponsorships and advertisements — where the dollar plays the puppeteer in so many aspects of our lives — I like my college bowls (even though the inception of the BCS also took away some of their luster). They help the sport retain a little bit of its athletic glory (think Olympics).

Suh for Heisman
On an unrelated note, here’s my plug for Suh for the Heisman Trophy. The voters need to be able to look beyond the offense and the ball carriers in the game. They are supposedly voting for “the Most Outstanding Player in the United States in 2009,” and defensive players are usually overlooked. Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples puts it this way: ” . . . unfortunately, the majority of the 926 voters don’t understand the game well enough to vote for a defensive tackle. They only watch the ball, so they almost always elect a quarterback, a running back or a wide receiver who also returns kicks. Suh, double-teamed almost every down, affected every offensive play Texas ran.”

About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

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